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Apple debuts ‘Apple Tested Cases’ web page

Apple has introduced a new web page on its site featuring a list of third-party cases that the company has tested and certified for use with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Titled “Apple Tested Cases,” the page provides details on testing the company apparently does on third-party cases, including ensuring proper fit, performing drop testing, and making certain that cases don’t interfere with the camera, acoustics, various sensors, and cellular, Wi-Fi, and NFC signals. This move follows a report late last year that Apple would be introducing more stringent requirements for MFi case makers, and could be a result of these new standards for case certification. The bottom of the page provides a link to all of the cases sold by the Apple Store, all of which presumably meet all of the specified requirements under the MFi program.

Showtime’s standalone Apple TV channel arrives with free trial

Confirming reports from last month, Showtime’s standalone channel launched today on Apple TV. Unlike last year’s addition of Showtime Anytime – which requires a traditional cable subscription to access content — the standalone Showtime channel will make the network’s offerings available for non-cable subscribers for $11 a month, undercutting HBO’s $15-a-month charge for the similar HBO Now service. Like HBO, Showtime is offering a 30-day free trial to attract users and is launching its channel on Apple TV before expanding to other platforms. A Showtime app for iOS isn’t available yet, but should be available soon.

Update: The Showtime iOS app is now available, as well.

Apple redesigning third-party accessory packaging for its stores

Apple is now co-designing packaging for third-party accessories sold in its Apple Stores, 9to5 Mac reports. Apple has been working with select accessory makers over the past six months, and redesigning boxes to be more in line with the packaging of Apple’s own products. According to a memo to Apple Store employees, the new packaging will be mostly white and include simpler fonts, better compatibility labeling and new product photography. The boxes will also be made of higher-quality materials, underscoring Apple’s emphasis on controlling the sourcing of its packaging products. Apple has helped produce new packaging for Tech21, Sena, Incase, Mophie, Logitech and LifeProof. As packaging that doesn’t fit the Apple look is phased out, the company will work with more accessory makers to expand the new packaging style. No hard timeline for the change has been released, but new boxes have already started showing up in larger Apple Stores.

As we’ve seen — and were told earlier this year — Apple has been pushing out many third-party case options in order to develop a “boutique” feel in stores. This new move to co-design third-party packaging follows those same lines.

Apple aims to bring back Home Sharing for music in iOS 9

A week after Apple quietly dropped the popular Home Sharing feature from the Music app in iOS 8.4, Senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue has promised the company is “working to have Home Sharing in iOS 9.” In a tweet, Cue confirmed that Apple is trying to bring back the missing feature, which allows an iOS device to stream music from a computer running iTunes on a local Wi-Fi network. With Home Sharing going missing just as Apple Music debuted, some have speculated that the feature was removed because it competed with the new streaming service and the company’s paid iTunes Match and iCloud Music Library options. Home Sharing is still available in the Videos app, and other than Cue’s tweet, Apple hasn’t hasn’t commented on the change.

Report: iPhone 6S may be slightly thicker than iPhone 6

An alleged schematic revealed by Engadget Japan alludes to the iPhone 6S as being slightly thicker than the iPhone 6. If true, the 6S will be 7.1 mm thick, a very slight increase over the existing iPhone 6’s 6.9 mm profile. The increase in size could be explained by rumors that Force Touch will be making its iPhone debut in the new model. Sources have claimed that any change to the 6S won’t be big enough to alter how existing iPhone 6 accessories fit.

Apple Pay set to launch in UK on July 14?

Internal communications sent to employees at multiple U.K. retailers appear to confirm that Apple Pay will be accepted for mobile payments in their country starting on July 14, 9to5Mac reports. Apple has also informed its own retail employees they’ll be getting training for Apple Pay support on July 12, just ahead of the launch date for retailers. It’s possible that Apple Pay will launch later at some stores, but July 14 seems like it could be a fairly widespread start date. Apple confirmed a July launch at WWDC, and an FAQ released a few weeks later explained that U.K. Apple Pay users won’t need to enter a PIN for purchases, but will still face the usual £20 limit currently imposed on contactless transactions. That limit is being increased to £30 nationally this September.

Report: New iPhone’s base storage could stay at 16GB

An examination of photos of an iPhone “6S” prototype shows that baseline models of the new phone could still start at 16GB of storage, 9to5Mac reports. Analysts agreed that a Toshiba memory chip spotted in the photos has a 16GB capacity, though whether that chip will actually ship with production models is unknown. The guts of the new model feature fewer chips and the ones that remain are notably smaller, hinting at Apple’s attempt to reduce power use while maintaining functionality. For all the changes inside, the photos seem to back up rumors that, despite adding Force Touch, the new iPhone’s size is identical to the iPhone 6, so using existing cases and other accessories shouldn’t be a problem. A leaked document from last week claimed that the new phone’s upgraded 12-megapixel camera will be able to record 4K video.

Apple exploring person-to-person Apple Pay transactions?

A new patent application uncovered by Patently Apple reveals that the company may be considering the expansion of Apple Pay into a wallet system capable of handling person-to-person transactions. Patent application 20150186887 describes a method that would allow two iPhone users to make a private sales transaction authenticated with Touch ID. The system would leverage the iOS Wallet/Passbook app and an encrypted wireless communication channel between the two devices likely similar in concept to the technology Apple already uses for transferring data via AirDrop; the Wallet app would identify nearby devices enabled for receiving payments and allow the user to select a target device to send a payment to, enter an amount, authenticate the payment with Touch ID, and send it to the other device. The receiving user would then have the option of accepting or declining the payment, and choosing a target payment applet such as a mobile banking app. The invention is attributed to Apple’s Senior Director of Apple Pay Engineering Timothy Hurley (formerly of Citibank) and Apple Pay engineer Ahmer Khan. The patent application was originally filed last year and as with many of Apple’s patent applications there are no guarantees as to when or if anything contained in the application may actually come to fruition. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: iPhone 6S to get 12MP camera, 4K video recording?

An alleged internal document posted by a Foxconn employee on Weibo suggests that the next-generation iPhone models may in fact include an upgraded camera at a 12-megapixel resolution capable of recording 4K video, iPhoneArena reports. This latest information seemingly corroborates earlier analyst predictions on a pixel upgrade for the new device, as well as multiple rumors suggesting that the new models will also get an increase to 2GB of RAM. While the original documents have since been removed from Weibo, copies have been making the rounds online. They also mention internal model numbers of N66 for the iPhone 6S and N71 for the iPhone 6S Plus, and suggest that the front camera on both models will be an upgrade to 5 megapixels.

Report: New iPhone 6S LTE chip could ‘double’ download speeds

A newer Qualcomm LTE chip in Apple’s upcoming iPhone will be able to deliver “up to twice the theoretical LTE download speeds” compared to the current iPhones, according to 9to5Mac. Qualcomm’s MDM9635M chip is capable of offering 300 Mbps download speeds, as compared to the current 150 Mbps download speeds found in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Upload speeds will be the same, however (50 Mbps), and the report notes real world performance will likely hover around 225 Mbps “or lower,” depending on cellular network performance. Since the new processor is more power efficient, it may mean slight battery gains — the report also claims the next iPhone motherboard will be thinner, possibly allowing for a larger battery.

Cue: New iOS 9 beta coming next week

A new iOS 9 beta will be arriving “early next week,” according to a tweet from Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue. Cue was responding to another tweet asking why Apple didn’t release Apple Music to developers — presumably, the upcoming third iOS 9 beta will contain Apple Music. Apple just released the second iOS 9 beta last week, alongside its watchOS 2 beta for Apple Watch.

iTunes 12.2 release includes support for Apple Music

Apple released iTunes 12.2 a bit later than usual on Tuesday, but as expected, the new release brings Apple Music to the Mac. iTunes 12.2 includes full Apple Music support, including Beats 1 and Apple Music Radio. The newest edition of iTunes can be downloaded on Apple’s iTunes website or through the Mac App Store.

Report: iPhone 6S to look ‘nearly identical’ to iPhone 6

A new report from 9to5Mac reveals that the exterior design of this year’s “iPhone 6S” models will look substantially the same on the outside despite a collection of internal changes. Citing “a proven source familiar with Apple’s supply chain,” the report claims, as others have, that Apple is planning on bringing Force Touch to the new models. However, the design of the iPhone 6S will be identical to the current iPhone 6 in terms of thickness and width, although it was less clear whether the same would apply to the iPhone 6S Plus. The new models will, however, reportedly include a different internal mounting structure for the new logic board and components, meaning casings will not be interchangeable between the devices. The design of the rear casing seems to quash the rumours of a dual-lens camera system, since it sports the same holes for camera, microphone, and LED flash as the current iPhone 6. Other design features such as the antenna lines, connectors, speakers, and microphones remain present.

Appeals court: Apple conspired to fix e-book prices

A federal appeals court ruled against Apple Tuesday, affirming that the company conspired with five publishers to increase e-book prices, Reuters reports. The 2-1 decision upheld a lower court ruling that the agreement that raised e-book prices to higher levels than those previously charged by Amazon violated antitrust laws. In his dissenting opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Dennis Jacobs said he would have reversed the ruling, holding that Apple’s behavior was pro-competitive in taking on “monopolist” Amazon, which controls about 90 percent of the e-book market.

Losing the appeal means Apple is on the hook for the previously determined $450 million settlement to resolve U.S. state and consumer claims from the case. The loss also means that Apple’s contentious relationship with its court-appointed antitrust monitor will continue. Neither Apple nor the Justice Department commented on the ruling.

Apple Music makes subscriptions available through carriers, adds iCloud Music Library

The updated iTunes terms of service rolling out with Apple Music today indicate that carriers may be handling at least some Apple Music subscriptions. “Where available, you may be offered an Apple Music Subscription through your carrier (a ‘Carrier Subscription’). If you purchase a Carrier Subscription, your carrier will bill you for the cost of your Apple Music Subscription,” the updated terms read. Apple makes it clear that issues with subscriptions purchased this way will have to be handled with the carrier, not Apple, and that buying a carrier subscription will mean the carrier and Apple exchanging a user’s personal information. Which carriers will be offering Apple Music subscriptions is still unclear. AT&T currently handles subscriptions for Beats Music, which will be canceled when Beats Music users migrate to Apple Music according to a Beats support page.

The Apple Music update also makes the iCloud Music Library feature available to subscribers logged in with their Apple ID. The iCloud Music Library is turned on automatically when users set up their Apple Music subscription, and like iTunes Match, the library can hold up to 25,000 songs, not including those a user has purchased in iTunes. A tweet from iTunes head Eddy Cue teased that the capacity for the iCloud Music Library will go from the 25,000 tracks to 100,000 tracks soon, but as it stands 25,000 is the limit at launch. While listening to Apple Music radio stations, users can store songs they like on the cloud for later playback, but those letting their Apple Music subscriptions lapse will lose access to any saved Apple Music content in the iCloud Music Library that hasn’t also been purchased through iTunes.

Apple Music makes much-anticipated debut with iOS 8.4 release

Apple has released iOS 8.4, and with it, Apple Music makes its much-anticipated debut within the redesigned Music app. Apple Music’s DJ-curated Beats 1 station will begin broadcasting at 12 p.m. Eastern time. The full scope of Apple Music features will eventually cost $10/month, but all the features are available to users free of charge for the first three months. iOS 8.4 also includes iBooks improvements and bug fixes.

Apple Q3 earnings call set for July 21

Apple has announced that it will release its Q3 financial results on Tuesday, July 21. As usual, the company will conduct its conference call at 5 p.m. Eastern time that day. Apple previously provided guidance for Q3 of revenue between $46 billion and $48 billion, and gross margin between 38.5 percent and 39.5 percent. As always, iLounge will provide coverage of the results.

Iovine: Human curation is key for Apple Music

Beats founder Jimmy Iovine and Apple’s head of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue are banking on human curation to set Apple Music apart from other streaming services, The Loop reports. Iovine said Beats 1 is less predictable than an algorithm-based playlist that leaves users stuck in a certain era or certain sound. Adding DJs back into the mix — but leaving them free from worrying about playing songs just because they’re hits at the moment — provides the flexibility to have an indie artist follow a mainstream act, or a rap track follow a rock song. “It works,” said Iovine. “And it works because the DJ is in the middle explaining how it works. DJs give you context.”

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor said other music services left him “feeling a little lacking.” For Reznor, who helped create Beats 1, the listening experience should make music discovery more accessible, like walking into a record shop where people are taking the time to help customers navigate through unfamiliar genres. “It’s exciting,” Reznor said. “And you leave with stuff you wouldn’t have dreamed you wanted and you’re excited to listen and share it and experience it.”

Dr. Dre’s ‘The Chronic’ to make streaming debut on Apple Music

Dr. Dre’s classic rap album “The Chronic” will make its streaming debut tomorrow on Apple Music, Rolling Stone reports. The 1992 album joins Taylor Swift’s “1989” as another big-name album currently only streaming on Apple Music. Years of legal battles even kept “The Chronic” off Dre’s own Beats Music. Dre was granted proceeds from digital sales of the album in a 2011 court victory, but the album is still unavailable for purchase on iTunes and was notably absent when Beats Music launched in 2014, despite falling under the umbrella of Beats Electronics’ deal with Apple.

Apple Music roundup: iOS 8.4 to get early Tuesday release, Sonos support on the way

Apple has pushed up its usual release time by a few hours for iOS 8.4 ahead of Apple Music’s release Tuesday, Apple Insider reports. In a now-deleted blog post, Apple Music’s senior director Ian Rogers said iOS 8.4 will become available at 8 a.m. Pacific Time (11 a.m. EST) to allow users to use Apple Music and hear the inaugural broadcast of Apple’s Beats 1 radio programming. Beats 1 will start its global broadcasting with former BBC DJ Zane Lowe an hour later.

An Apple Music Facebook event encourages users to update to iOS 8.4 and directs them to another site spelling out requirements for using the streaming service. The new Music app in iOS 8.4 is needed to run Apple Music on an iPhone, which can then sync with an Apple Watch to provide playback “even when your paired iPhone is not nearby.” New Apple Music users with existing iTunes libraries will have access to their entire collection through iCloud, and Beats Music users opening the Beats Music app on an iOS device tomorrow will be prompted to join Apple Music, where their saved playlists and albums will be made available.

Apple also promises to roll out Apple Music to Android this fall, and Apple spokesman Tony Neumayr confirmed to Buzzfeed that Apple Music is coming to Sonos devices “before the end of the year” after previous reports claimed that the service wouldn’t be available on Sonos. Beats Music, which is owned by Apple, works on Sonos, but iTunes Radio and many other features that have been folded into Apple Music still don’t. More music updates are on the horizon as well, with iTunes head Eddy Cue tweeting that work is underway on expanding the size of iTunes Match libraries from 25,000 tracks to 100,000 tracks.

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